I like making fajitas at home more than I like making tacos because I love eating crunching into seared grilled peppers and onions. Fajitas are just so colorful that I feel like I’m really decorating my plate with something that is both healthy and comforting. And an added plus is that you can find fajita-making ingredients in the 4 corners of the world-I dare you not to be able to make a fajita no matter where you happen to be.
But I know that I might be wiping the sacred taco through the mud talking to the purists…the locals, because it doesn’t matter where you go, south of the border and in Spanish you are not going to find a ‘fajita’ on a menu unless maybe you are in a Chili’s somewhere.
Fajitas are Tex Mex I guess, but I always feel like that is a way to call Mexican food that doesn’t make the cut. I don’t think fajitas are fake at all. I think they are delicious and come from cooking the vegetables at a high, dry heat and then adding the meat and some liquid so that everything is juicy and lightly coated in the flavoring you give it!
I’d also like to say that I think Fajitas are American as American a food you’ll ever find. It’s like lasagna or pizza. They might have old world counterparts, but if these dishes were people, if you put these dishes side by side at a dinner party because they shared a last name…you’d be making a mistake. They might find they share a great-great grandmother from a second cousin’s husband or something. But American lasagna came to the New World to make a different life for itself…it was reinvented long ago and has become a dinnertime favorite on tables across the country. The fajita is kind of like that…
Anyway, my fajita seasoning base includes what I deem to be the major ‘latino’ flavors: ground cumin, paprika, and oregano…yes that’s right, oregano. A little trick I learned from an Ecuadorian in a studio kitchen during my student years. From there, I play with it at will-I love adding smoky Chipotle, a little garlic and some cilantro if I have any on hand…but if not…those dry ingredients are enough to make growling stomachs happy at a moment’s notice.
(Ok, I know I said fajitas are American, but I use this mix for tortilla fillings of several varieties-and we have this really small American flag…)
Fajita Seasoning Recipe
4 tsp cumin
1 ½ oregano
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp salt
1 clove garlic
+veggies (I use one medium-large onion, 1 green pepper, ½ red pepper, 2 tomatoes)
+meat (generally about 500 grams, or a pound of chicken)
+1/2 c. tomato juice
+1/2 c H2O (you may need more water if you have the heat too high)
Mix the dry spices. You will have enough to make 2 batches.
Only add fresh ingredients when you are ready to make the sauce.
I start by adding onions and peppers to a frying pan and cooking on high until some of the veggies have that ‘seared’ effect. I add the meat, generally cut into thin strips. Then I add the tomatoes, garlic, and the liquid until the water has evaporated and I’m left with a little tomato sauce.
I serve with some plain yogurt or sour cream, cheese, and lettuce (if I have thought of it ahead of time).
You can make this a day ahead if you want to make homemade tortillas. This dish makes great leftovers because it reheats deliciously!